Contemporary Maya Spirituality: The Ancient Ways Are Not Lost

Contemporary Maya Spirituality: The Ancient Ways Are Not Lost

Contemporary Maya Spirituality: The Ancient Ways Are Not Lost

Contemporary Maya Spirituality: The Ancient Ways Are Not Lost

Excerpt

The highlands of Guatemala and of southern Mexico, a predominately indigenous region, are unique in terms of relationships between religion and indigenous populations. These communities, with legacies of traditional Maya beliefs and practices for tens of thousands of years, have been the objects of many religious projects in the past five centuries: the long tyrannical shadow which passed from the north in Pedro de Alvarado's invasion in 1524; the imposition of Spanish Catholicism during the colonial period; the introduction of Protestantism during the anticlerical liberal years of 1870–1926; projects of Catholic Action in the 1950s; and the more recent U.S.-exported missions, which have ushered in an expansive growth of evangelical Protestantism since the 1970s. The political and religious trajectory of each endeavor has attempted to inscribe its own construction of knowledge and power on indigenous people. Religious discrimination and conflict have marked the history in distinct, and sometimes extreme, ways. The responses of indigenous communities to these projects have been varied, and deeply complex.

Over the centuries, ancestral practices, often masked or shrouded in secrecy, have continued to sustain highland people. Due to their geographical remoteness and high altitudes, they were relatively inaccessible to colonial Spaniards, the liberal reforms of the 1870s, and pastoral visits from Catholic priests. The highland communities developed religious teachings and rituals relatively free from control of the Catholic hierarchy (Earle 1995; Falla 2001; Lovell 1992; Oss 1986). Compared to areas of in-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.